Navy committed, but cautious, on Joint Information Environment

IT leaders are on board with the concept, but want to be sure about security, cost and standards.

The Marine Corps, meanwhile, is moving to its own “network of networks,” the .

The Navy is on board with the Defense Department’s Joint Information Environment, but does want to address concerns over security, cost and standards, Navy IT leaders said Tuesday.

CIO Terry Halversen, speaking at the Sea-Air-Space conference at National Harbor, Md., acknowledged that the “Navy is sometimes seen as a reluctant JIE partner,” but he and other leaders on a panel addressing the Navy’s next-generation IT said the service is committed to the transition.

JIE is the Pentagon’s initiative to converge the Defense Department’s networks into a common, global, cloud-based system that shares services such as email, Internet access and applications across the services. In addition to JIE boosting efficiency and saving money, DOD expects that future military operations will necessarily be joint, involving two or more of the services plus coalition partners, thereby creating the need for joint information sharing.

And while the Navy agrees with the concept of JIE, its leaders just want to ensure that the transition, Halvorsen said, “works for the Navy and Marine Corps.”

The services’ concerns have arisen during their own transition to upgraded service-wide networks. The Navy and Marine Corps, for instance, have been slow to adopt DOD Enterprise Email, the initial pillar of JIE, primarily over concerns about the costs of moving from its own enterprise email system, the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, soon to be replaced by the Next Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN. Security and common standards for interoperability are other concerns.

“Cost is important,” John Zangardi, Navy deputy assistant secretary for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence and space, said during the panel session. Whether talking about JIE or other Navy projects during the session, Zargardi and other panelists regularly referred to the tightened budget environment.

But Zangardi said the Navy is more engaged now with moving to JIE and said NGEN—to which the service could migrate to by September—“is an evolutionary path to JIE.”

Other concerns such as security also are being addressed, possibly turning what was a concern into an advantage.

“The biggest thing I want [from JIE] is enhanced security,” said Brig. Gen. Kevin Nally, deputy CIO of the Marines, “and I think we’re going to get it.”

The Navy also recognized the overall advantages of a joint environment. “We see JIE not just as an opportunity to break down barriers but as an opportunity to work with our sister services,” said Janice Haith, Navy deputy CIO.

Victor Gavin, program executive officer for Enterprise Information Systems, also mentioned NGEN as a catalyst for moving to JIE, and said PEO has been working with the Defense Information Systems Agency on aspects such as fiber and mobility.

The September migration to NGEN came as something of a surprise from the panel. NGEN, most recently delayed by a protest last year that lasted three months before original contractor Hewlett-Packard prevailed, has had a target date of the end of the year. But Gavin said the transition has been accelerated, and that the September date is now realistic.

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